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PRAGUE - Czech Airlines to launch flights to Seoul

(This article expired 08.12.2013.)

Czech Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, plans to launch of a twice-weekly service to Seoul from June 2013 to follow the boost of Czech-Korean ties in last few years. It will also expand its codeshare with Korean Air, which flies to Czech capital Prague four times a week since 2004.

7 Dec

Czech Airlines flight OK190 will leave Prague airport, recently named after late president Václav Havel, at 1255 on Saturdays, landing at Incheon International Airport at 0540 the next morning. The Sunday flight, meanwhile, will depart the Czech capital at 1830 to touch down at 1115 the next day. The return leg service – OK191 – will leave Incheon at 1245 on Sundays and Tuesdays, landing back in Prague at 1650 the same day. A 280-seater A333 aircraft that will join the airline's fleet in June will be used to ply the route.  

“We have been analysing Eastern markets since the beginning of our restructuring, looking for ways to develop in that direction,” said Czech Airlines’ President Philippe Moreels. “Developments confirm our belief that the future of the aviation business lies in connections to Asia.” Czech Airlines will also seek to expand its codeshare with Korean Air. The two airlines will codeshare on Czech’s Prague to Seoul flight, and Czech will also place its code on more of Korean Air’s onward Asian regional flights.

“Thanks to the mutual harmonisation of departure and arrival times, passengers travelling from Prague will have perfect connections to Korean Air flights from Seoul to Japan, China and the Pacific,” said Jiří Marek, Czech Airlines’ vice president for sales and marketing. The new Czech flight, departing at the weekend, will compliment the four weekly flights (on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) which Korean Air operates between Seoul and Prague from 2004.

„Entry of our national flag carrier to a Korean market is a logical follow up to an increase of Czech-Korean relations in all the fields,“ says Czech Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Jaroslav Olša, jr. „This year, Republic of Korea became the Czech Republic’s third biggest non-European trade partner, behind China and the US, and overcame Japan for the first time. We expect that the bilateral foreign trade turnover will be close to 4 billion USD in 2012,“ says Ambassador Olša and adds: „This means that our trade exchange practically doubled in a mere four years since my arrival to Seoul.“

The Czech Republic’s primary exports to the Republic of Korea are commodities such as pumps, toys, heavy engineering products, electrical equipment components, and spare parts for transport equipment, and – not so large in financial terms, but important in PR value – also famous Czech beer, crystal glass, art and music. Meanwhile, Rep. of Korea’s largest exports to the Czech Republic include consumer electrical goods and automobiles. There are also significant Korean investors in the Czech Republic. In 2009 Hyundai Motor opened a USD$1,221 million production plant near Nošovice in the East of the Czech Republic, and other important Korean investors are also Doosan in Pilsen, GS Caltex in Karviná and Hanhwa in vicinity of Frýdek-Místek, to mention only the most important ones.

Opening of additional flights between Prague and Seoul will have a very important impact on tourism, too, as in the first six months of this year number of Korean tourists reached almost 70,000. „We expect that the number of Korean tourists will be close to 150,000 in 2012,“ says head of trade section of Czech Embassy in Seoul Miloš Sklenka. Increased flight capacity will be another boost for tourism between the both countries. And almost daily flights will make Václav Havel Ruzyně airport in Prague a very good hub for Koreans flying to many European destinations, mainly in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, where there are no direct flights from Incheon.
The increased number of flights will also complement dynamic Czech-Korean cultural ties, which became stronger in last years as there is a significant cultural exchange going on every year. „At least four Czech classical musical ensembles are touring Korea every year, number of Czech and Korean books being translated into other language is booming, both Korean and Czech films are successful and following Korean art presentation in Czech National Gallery in 2010, two big art exhibitions are being bound for Seoul for 2013,“ says Ambassador Olša. In early 2013 Czech Republic is also to open its official cultural center in Seoul, which will make the Czech Republic the 5th European  country (after Germany, France, Britain and Italy) having such an institution in the Republic of Korea.